Alumni from the Fuld Gilad Herring Academy of Competitive Intelligence are spread throughout the world and work in nearly every industry. Their experience and insights are a valuable resource to our students. So, in this, our inaugural edition of the ACI Virtual Roundtable, we asked a selection of our alumni:

What advice would you give to managers just starting in Competitive Intelligence?

Don’t reinvent the wheel: When appropriate use your competitor’s analysis, just verify their assumptions

Levy Bouligny
Strategic Marketing Manager
Geomarkets Sales & Marketing

When you’re just starting out in CI, it’s important not to try and be an expert in every area, but instead to start learning and studying a key aspect of the competitive industry.  Become an expert on one area or one aspect of the industry first and by doing that, you will pick up on other aspects along the way that you’ll recall when needed. 

I think it’s important to read and make notes on your industry.  Read about the history of the industry, the key players, and how they became key players. Understand the market share and how it has changed over time.  And, when you come across something that could be a future impact to the industry or a future move of one of your competitors, try and verify the intelligence first. Find out if another source is saying the same thing, or if it’s a magazine article or a newspaper story, don’t be afraid to call or contact the writer

I have done this on various occasions and it’s surprising how much more information and data you can collect from having a conversation with the writer; they often tell all they know!

The last piece of advice I have is to remember and record your sources.  If you find information, whether from an online source like a website, or from a journalist or reporter, keep track of it and keep going back to it.  Because most likely you will be able to gather more from that same source in the future!

Joe Mulvaney
Director of Strategic Facilitation & Qualitative Research

First, understand what competitive strategy really is. Competitive strategy is all about activities; a unique set of activities that help differentiate you from the competition and provide you a sustainable advantage. What many people think of strategy as, strategic planning, is really more of a budgetary exercise.

Second, I want you to understand that your job is not to be right or wrong and it’s not to predict the future. Your job is to provide an interesting perspective to your client or your boss. You’re a sort of industry analysts, not an information professional – not data gatherers.

Ideally, you’re not just collecting data and giving someone a thousand PowerPoint slides. You want to be able to go deeper and provide an interesting perspective. If someone wants your CI role to be simply data gathering, run to the nearest exit!

Thomas Blailock
Strategy and Competitive Intelligence Advisor

Do you have any advice you’d share with managers just getting started in a Competitive Intelligence role? Please share your insights in the comments section below…